Getting to tire course 5

We started the summer with passion, some really great volunteers, a cleared building site, a desire to build and no building permit.

A bit of a pickle really.

We decided to move ahead and work to the first building inspection (foundations).  A bit of a gamble as we are using tires as our foundation – but we felt confident in the work by our structural engineer, Mark Fleischhaker and our architect, Keith Tetlow and the unofficial feedback from the Regional District of Nanaimo that we decided to take the risk and just start.

First… getting the plans finalized and submitted to the RDN …and then waiting for approval, answering questions and following up with information.

These are the Earthship plans by Mike Reynolds modified to meet the BC Rainforest climate, the BC building code and the National Energy Code.

The RDN have been great to work with, a reflection of the quality of work and attention to detail by Mark, Keith and Daniel.

So..first things first.. if you want to host volunteers, you need some stuff.

The Bear Paw Cafe.  Just saying it got it’s name from a couple of visitors (the black furry kind)… but that’s a story for another day.

A shower. You gotta come by and check this out for yourself.  It is AWESOME!!!! You can do that on one of our tours ( to arrange yours.  Or join our working bees; Friday August 24; Saturday August 25; or Saturday September 1st. Coffee’s on at 8:30.

So… getting back to our conversation at hand.

If you want to build, you need to start off by leveling the building site

First step to building.. leveling the build site
The topsoil scraped and piled for later use.

With a keen eye and attention to detail our volunteer, Horizon takes the lead on laying out the first course of tires. This Facebook post @theDoighouse Earthship build gets over 2000 views in just a few days.

the shape and feel of our Earthship begins to come to life

Once we have the permit we can pour the  foundation. It’s a big red letter day when the cement truck arrives.

In under 2 hours we are done.  No form blow outs!  Everything goes perfectly, exactly as planned!  What an amazing leader Horizon has been.  All the volunteers agree.

The footing for the first of 2 glass walls are poured

Next… Laying drain tile.. this is actually pretty tricky, because it is not just drain pipe and rock.  The pipe is sitting on 4” of rigid foam, it is wrapped in filter cloth, laying on drain rock with a foot of drain rock on top… PLUS there is the installation of the upright rigid foam and then a second drain pipe directly behind the foam. A lot of thinking and planning went into developing an efficient and effective way of laying these pipes. Our core team is small, but work together very well.

The drain pipe is encased in filter cloth and gravel.

No sooner do we celebrate the finishing of the drainage and it’s time to start the backfilling of the berm.  The berm and insulation are built at the same time as the tire wall.  So the wall moves up steadily.  Not fast… but steady with great attention to detail.  The Earthship is going to challenge step 5 of the new energy step code.  We all know our attention to detail and being careful in our execution could make the difference between step 4 and step 5.  The whole team is committed to quality work.

Moving the dirt
Thousands of tons of dirt will form the berm for the rear tire wall

Today, August 23,  2018 we are working  on the fourth course.  Tomorrow, while we host our working bee, we hope to be moving on the fifth course.

We’re super proud of our volunteers!  We have a long list of people that have come and  volunteered and visited.  However I really want to a GIANT SHOUT OUT to Horizon and David for their time and commitment.  They have generously shared with all our guests, visitors and volunteers their passion for all things Earthship, and our planet.  I just can imagine this build without them.

And also, thanks to Tony, for his tenacity and stick-to-it-ness.  Not for one minute has he wavered from our goal of creating a space and place where people will want to come and share their culture, their ideas, their aspirations and their passion for our planet, the people on it, and Earthships!

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